Dreamboats and Petticoats

Fans of rock and roll won’t be left disappointed by the musical numbers in teenage romance production, Dreamboats and Petticoats. The renditions of popular hits are performed with precision and musical skill and the live band is filled with true virtuosos. Yet, the entire performance lacked the sparkling dance moves and stage presence needed to turn this run of rock 'n' roll musical hits into a story for the stage.

toe-tapping, infectious performances had the audience swaying in their seats.

Set in the early 1960s, Dreamboats and Petticoats follows a familiar experience of teenage love and heartache within a British youth group with a penchant for pop. The aim of the production is to play on the nostalgic memories and music of the period and transport the audience back into this era, but this production—directed and choreographed by Bob Thomson and Carole Todd—takes a while to get going.

The repertoire of hits for the night are a recipe for getting the audience dancing out of their seats, but a lack of enthusiasm and a visibly tense and awkward cast make for an uninspiring start to the night. Opening number Let’s Dance left a lot to be desired on the dancing front; however, a stellar performance from Alistair Hill as the cool and arrogant heartthrob, Norman, lifted the energy and mood of the production. His performance of Jimmy Jones’ Good Timin held the audience's attention, as his stage presence was visibly more comfortable than others.

There's no doubting the vocal skills of the cast; often, the all-cast numbers were the stars of the show, particularly those done a Capella. However this just didn’t match the standards of acting and dancing throughout the evening; the dull choreography didn’t inspire 60s twisting, and chemistry was slow to show between Bobby (Alistair Higgins) and Laura (Elizabeth Carter). The acting and dancing were the missing elements on a beautiful stage with a colourful and radical arty 60s attitude, accompanied by a live musical band that were the true stars of the show.

After the interval, however, the second half felt like a different production! Scene transitions were smoother; enthusiasm and fun was ramped up a notch; and toe-tapping, infectious performances had the audience swaying in their seats. All-cast numbers such as Runaround Sue and Happy Birthday Sweet 16 showed more technicality in their dancing and acting, whilst Higgins and Carter gave a more heartfelt performance of Let it Be Me that made up for their earlier lack of chemistry.

So, despite a slow and wobbly start, Dreamboats and Petticoats finishes on a high. A truly talented live band (with some serious shivers-down-your-spine guitar riffs) really help to raise the standards of the performance. Unfortunately, the cast doesn’t get the balance of singing, dancing and acting quite just right. Regardless of these missing elements, Dreamboats and Petticoats will still make sure you’re doo-wopping and twisting by the end of the night.  

Reviews by Sarah Virgo

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The Blurb

Inspired by the 7 smash hit multi-million selling albums of the same name, the West End sell out sensation Dreamboats and Petticoats features some of the greatest hit songs of the rock ‘n’ roll era.

The dazzling success of the first seven albums in the Dreamboats and Petticoats series sent the message loud and clear. With over three and a half million copies sold and several weeks at the number one spot in the compilation charts, the Great British public were saying that they didn’t just want to listen to pure nostalgia: they’d love to see it as well.

In 1961 emotions run high as young musicians Norman and Bobby compete to win a national song writing competition - and, more importantly, the attention of the gorgeous Sue! But when Bobby discovers that shy Laura is no

slouch on the piano, love and rock ‘n’ roll fame beckons.

Featuring classic tracks from Roy Orbison, The Shadows, Eddie Cochran, Billy Fury, and many more, including "Let’s Dance", "To Know Him Is To Love Him", "Shaking All Over", "Bobby’s Girl", "Great Pretender", "Let’s Twist Again" and many more hits from music’s golden era!

Dreamboats and Petticoats – the songs will live forever!